What does it mean to switch to Google Analytics 4?

The change from Google Universal Analytics to this new generation, baptized GA4, has a move date of July 1, 2023. Would you like to know how the new Google Analytics GA4 will affect ecommerce? Here are some frequently questions about Google Analytics 4.

What does it mean to switch to Google Analytics 4?

The new generation of Google Analytics is here to stay. This is what the company has announced with the publication of its release date: July 1, 2023. On that day, Google Analytics Universal, as we know it, will stop processing and collecting our data, giving way to the new Google Analytics 4.

Google Analytics 4 is presented as a completely renewed tool that will allow businesses to obtain a considerable amount of very useful metrics. It is the most important update of Analytics in the last decade. This evolution will give us access to a significant number of changes in the interface and in the data model established so far.

It will also mean an increase in the return on investment of each campaign carried out by a company. In addition, it facilitates the organization of new reports to analyze the path of each client, allowing us to obtain a much higher performance than the one offered up to that moment.

Google Analytics 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Although the changes of this new tool are still several months away, it is important to start taking into consideration what these improvements will mean in order to continue accessing the metrics.

How do the GA4 changes affect ecommerce?

The upgrade from one model to another will affect the way of doing business seen so far. The GA4 ecommerce conversion is marked by the following variables:

    • Everything is measured in “events”. Web pages and applications now adapt their content to the interests of each user. In the properties of the new Google Analytics, hits disappear to make way for events. If a user views a page on your site, a page_view event will be triggered, tags and categories will no longer be used, and instead, many custom parameters will be included. It is therefore advisable for ecommerce to implement this new version as soon as possible to gradually adapt to these changes.
     
    • Unified app and web measurement. Until now, Google Analytics offered the possibility of unifying the app (Firebase) and the web (Universal Analytics) with the App+Web system. With this new version, together with the implementation of event-based measurement, data from both systems are collected in the same way, duplicate accesses are eliminated and a complete and relevant view of the customer journey is provided.  
  • Reports according to taste. Moving to Google Analytics 4 involves the incorporation of the new Explorations tool, thanks to this you can drag and drop the variables and parameters that are of interest to the user, it will also allow you to filter, segment and sort the data easily. When identifying the data sets that need to be visualized, they can be used as Google Analytics segments or audiences, shared and exported for use in other tools.
    • Free connection with Big Query. This new version has a native connection with BigQuery and accepts up to 10 gigabytes of data storage for free, and 1 terabyte per month of queries that renew the following month. 
     

Impacts and benefits of using GA4

This new update brings new functionalities with it, with the aim of providing more valuable insights and thus helping even more to make business decisions in order to improve ROI.

The emergence of the new Google Analytics, in the era of activation, means a complete integration with the introduction of machine learning, people-based insights and more direct data activation. Data collection can only create value for a brand if it is collected and structured to build a single point of connection that links across devices and platforms across the entire user journey – both on and off the web. 

We are at a point where linking marketing and technology means placing increasing value on data assets in an ecosystem where privacy and data quality challenges are paramount.

The move to GA4 will see data collection take a much broader view, with a diverse range of interests. It will also move to offer much more agile data exploration, the ability to explore data and therefore understand it, giving way to analysis and discovery of new insights.

This new update will undoubtedly mark a turning point, especially in terms of audiences. The audience creation system will now be more flexible, with overlapping audiences, multi-platform attribution and event generation when the user joins an audience.

Will GA4 say goodbye to cookies?

It’s time to say bye, bye to cookies. The new Google Analytics still measures sessions (it uses browser cookies), but it is intended for a cookie-free world where user activity is measured by artificial intelligence. This version primarily uses data extracted from device identifiers and contextual event analysis to identify users and align them with their activity.

Thanks to this new approach, Google aims to lower the level of dependency on cookies through the use of machine learning. In this way, it seeks to record events or conversions without the need for the user’s explicit consent. This is the company’s solution to anticipate and improve the conditions of analytics after the conflict unleashed as a result of the problem with privacy and how complicated it is to collect new data.

GA4 vs Universal Analytics

Is GA4 better than Universal Analytics? There are many differences between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 data models. The main differences between GA4 and UA are the following:

    • Types of  hits:
     
    • Universal Analytics: among its hit types are page hits, event hits, e-commerce hits and social interaction hits.
    • Google Analytics 4: your data is event-driven, any interaction is recorded as an event. Hit types in Universal Analytics properties are converted to events in the properties when moving to Google Analytics 4.
  • Events:  
    • Universal Analytics: each event consists of a category, an action, a label and its own hit type.   
    • Google Analytics 4: each hit is an event, events lack category, action and label, these components are not shown in GA4 reports.  
  • Page views and screen views:  
    • Universal Analytics: page views and screen views.
    • Google Analytics 4: page views are translated into page_view events, it is automatically triggered by the gtag cofing command or by the Google Analytics 4 configuration tag. In screen views something similar happens, the screen_view event is triggered every time the user accesses a screen.  
  • Sessions ( ** set of user interactions with your website in a given period).  
    • Universal Analytics: a session may contain multiple page views, events, social interactions and e-commerce transactions. A session is considered to end after a period of inactivity of 30 minutes or when another event takes place.  
    • Google Analytics 4: session metrics are obtained from session_start, an automatically logged event. The duration of a session is based on the time interval between the first and the last event of the session.   

The main difference is the shift from a measurement model based on page views to a model focused on event measurement. The fact that there are two different tools is due to the fact that today not all Internet traffic comes from web pages, but also from mobile apps and other sources. Across all of these content types, events allow us to more effectively measure the data collected.

The new features of GA4

  • It allows to measure in a better way the degree of engagement.
  • The possibility of measuring the results of personalized events in a practical and simple way.
  • Unify metrics, whether it is a mobile app, a web page or social networks.
  • The ability to export the data obtained in BigQuery for free. BigQuery is a large enterprise data warehouse to analyze information and create reports, as well as perform SQL queries.
  • Offers greater options for exploration and analysis of data, user behavior in the digital environment, etc…
  • Allows you to create advanced analytics reports, designed by yourself from scratch or from predefined Analytics templates.
  • The inclusion of machine learning GA4. Undoubtedly, the most important change in relation to the level of data offered is the inclusion of machine learning. This is a form of artificial intelligence that makes predictions with data, through algorithms that allow devices to identify patterns in massive data and develop predictive analysis. 

How does the GA4 change affect the data?

Universal Analytics data does not migrate to the new Google Analytics. The measurement model incorporated in this new update is very different from the one seen so far. So much so that the historical information will remain in the previous version, on which at the time, we recommend a checklist of optimizations for UA. However, the sooner GA4 is activated, the more historical information will be available in the new web property. 

By now you already know part of how GA4 works, the powerful version that Google will incorporate to its system and how it can help your business. Would you like to know more about how it can improve your activity? Do not hesitate to contact us, our digital analytics team will help you to successfully overcome the transition. How far do you want to go?

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